During the day, there are shore excursions and onboard activities. During our stay, these included dance classes, a ten-pin bowling tournament and an ice-carving class. Don't expect any in-depth cultural lectures, as the accent is more on fun than on information.
By night, party animals have many choices. This is not a ship where the majority of passengers are tucked up in bed well before midnight. The main entertainment venue is the 1,600-seat two-story Platinum Theatre on Decks 6 and 7. The emphasis is on visual shows that will appeal to an international audience, and we watched a colorful take on "Alice in Wonderland" with fantastic Cirque du Soleil-style acrobats.
There are 20 bars, including the new Diamond Bar that's one of the quieter venues and two outside pool bars. Others include the Green Sax jazz bar, chic El Dorado piano bar and the large Safari Lounge that hosts smaller shows and has a dance floor. Night owls can dance into the wee hours in the Galaxy Lounge disco or see if lady luck smiles in the large casino, with slots and gaming tables. The casino is one of the areas on the ship where smoking is allowed, which can come as a bit of an unpleasant surprise to nonsmokers used to ships where smoking is banned in public areas.
Hamburg, Flam, Molde, Tromso, Spitsbergen (Svalbard), Hamburg
Santos (Sao Paulo), Rio de Janeiro, Buzios, Madeira (Funchal), Lisbon, Vigo, Southampton, Le Havre
Hamburg, Flam, Molde, Tromso, Spitsbergen (Svalbard), Hamburg
The soaring atrium, with its sweeping, glittering staircases, water feature and glass-sided elevator, is the focal point midship on Deck 5. There's for-fee Wi-Fi available throughout the ship, and passengers who have not brought a tablet or laptop can use the Cybercafe next to the reception desk on the same deck.
Most of the public rooms are on Decks 6 and 7, connected by pillared and invariably ornate walkways dotted with sculptures and works of art. On Deck 6, there's a shopping plaza that includes a duty-free mini-mall, perfumery, sweet shop, accessories store and an outlet selling upmarket sunglasses. Deck 7 has a jewelry and logowear shop, an art gallery and a photo shop. The latter is a particularly attractive area with large black and white photographs of Italy in years gone by.
Preziosa has MSC's signature Mediterranean fragrance of fig and almond scents diffused through air-conditioning ducts throughout the ship. While some might turn up their noses and view it -- or, in reality, sniff it -- as upmarket air freshener, we didn't really notice or find it overpowering.
A laundry service is available, but there are no self-service laundries.
Occupying a prime spot forward on Deck 14 is the Aurea Spa, including a new thermal area with a sauna, steam and frigidarium ice room that's not featured on other Fantasia-class ships. The spa has 14 sea-facing treatment rooms and offers an extensive range of Balinese-inspired massages and beauty treatments that range from €8 ($10) for hair-straightening and facial-waxing to the Ultimate Deluxe Thermal Ritual, a four-hour session that adds up to an eye-watering €480 ($615) per person or €770 ($987) per couple.
The large, adjoining fitness center, with panoramic views over the bow, has Technogym running machines, cross-trainers and other aerobic equipment, as well as weight resistance equipment, free weights and an area in the main gym for spinning classes on stationary bikes. Some fitness classes, yoga sessions and personal training sessions incur extra fees.
Outside are a jogging track and two swimming pools, plus an indoor pool with a retractable glass roof. The largest of these pools is the Aqua Park pool on Deck 14, which has water jets and cascades. Scattered across the ship are 10 whirlpools. There's also a fourth pool exclusively available for Yacht Club passengers.
With youngsters younger than 18 travelling free if they share a cabin with two full-paying adults, and special rates for children accompanied by one adult in the same cabin, it's no surprise MSC is popular with families. Preziosa offers great facilities for children, including the all-new Doremi (clever name -- say it like the musical scales, do re mi) water playground on Deck 16. With features like sprays, fountains, water pistols and a "drenching bucket" that fills up drip by drip before raining down on unsuspecting heads, it will keep splash-happy children amused for hours.
Above Doremi on Deck 18 is one of the ship's standout features -- the 394-foot-long Vertigo waterslide, billed as the longest single-rider body waterslide on the waves. The slide is 42 feet high and takes thrill-seekers on a twisting descent that includes a 30-foot transparent stretch over the side of the ship. Note: Children shorter than 47 inches are not permitted on the slide, and there is a maximum weight restriction of 330 pounds.
The indoor pirate-themed Doremiland children's area on Deck 15 is home to the Mini and Junior clubs, for children ages 3 to 6 and 7 to 11, respectively. The clubs offer free daily entertainment conducted in different languages, according to the nationalities of youngsters. Doremiland remains open in ports of call to provide supervised activities for children whose parents have booked shore excursions. Parents should be aware that Preziosa does not offer a baby-sitting service.
Children younger than 3 can join Babytime, with an accompanying adult, for two-hour sessions every morning, afternoon and evening. For older children, the Y-Team caters to ages 12 to 14 and the Teens Club to 15 to 17. Facilities include the dedicated teen disco, Graffiti's; a weekly themed party; and, new for 2013, the chance to take part in the weekly Flash Mob, impressing other passengers with a performance by the pool. Virtual World includes a video arcade, Formula 1 race car simulator and 4D cinema, all at extra cost.
Teens will feel very grown up with Teenage Kicks, a range of spa and makeup treatments, temporary stencil tattoos and hair services available in the spa. A prepaid Teen Card is also available, which doubles as a cabin key and offers under-18's the opportunity to buy items onboard. Available in €30 ($38) and €50 ($64) versions, it cannot be used to buy alcohol or tobacco, and any credit remaining at the end of the cruise is not reimbursed.